New Blog Location

Please, visit our new blog location at www.coyotecrk.com/blog for updated posts.

How Running an IT Shop is Like Running a Baseball Team

While I know a lot more about running an IT shop than running a baseball team, when I stop to think about it I realize that the two really do have a lot in common. Here are some of the important things you need to do in either situation.

Pay attention to the roster - First and foremost, whether you’re running an IT shop or a baseball team, you want to field the best team possible. As a manager, you need to know all of your players. Who are your super stars? Your utility players? Your role players? Is each person in a position that will make both them and the team successful?

When I ran IT shops I always took the time to take a close look at my team roster and understand where each team member was in their careers. Some were at the end of their careers and would be retiring from the team at some point. In these cases, I needed to make sure I had someone ready to step up and take their spot. Others were in the middle of their careers, and needed a plan to manage their career through midstream. Then there were the rookies. I had to keep an eye on my “farm club” – the new college hires or people just starting their career. It was important to help these team members develop the skills they needed so that eventually they could join the starting lineup.

Work towards a goal - Once you have your team in place you need a big, overriding goal to define the team’s efforts. For baseball teams this goal is make it to the World Series and win the National Championship. For IT shops the goal is to help the business meet its objectives in terms of profitability, growth, and so forth.

Keep your eye on the competition - It’s not enough to keep an eye on your own team. You also need to spend some time watching your competition. You need to know the opposing team’s players, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they compete. When I ran IT shops I often looked at our company’s competitors’ IT shops to see how our team stacked up and to think about how our IT team could help our company win.

Get some points on the board - If morale is low and your team has been beaten down, one of the best ways to turn things around is to get some points on the board. To make this happen, you need to get some tasks or projects completed quickly so that your team members can gain a sense of accomplishment. Pick some small, easily-accomplished items so that everyone gains the feeling that they can get some hits and runs and points. Baseball teams react to the crowd’s cheers. IT teams react to kudos and accolades. As the momentum starts to build, your players will see that they’re pulling together as a team to succeed and win – just like a baseball team that’s enjoying success.

Mike Faster, President 

Managing Security and Accessibility for your SharePoint Extranet

Although most organizations’ initial implementations of SharePoint are internally-focused intranets or collaboration sites, many soon have the desire to create extranets to extend their SharePoint use beyond their corporate boundaries. Extranets can be extremely useful for providing access to vital but non-public information to employees who work off-site; sharing project-related information with customers, partners or vendors; and more. Just like intranets, your SharePoint extranets can even be branded with your company’s look and feel (for more information, see our previous two-part blog on Branding Your SharePoint Site).

Two Key Extranet Issues: Security and Accessibility

When you use SharePoint on your internal network it is protected by your corporate fire walls. As soon as you create an extranet and make potentially sensitive information available externally, however, security becomes a major concern. The question becomes: How do you protect information while still making it accessible? The answer is to do the following:

  • Use Dedicated Servers – For maximum security, your extranet should be set up on separate, dedicated servers that are only used for the extranet. Although not as secure, your extranet can also be hosted on partitioned internal servers. In this case, be sure to follow Microsoft’s security recommendations.
  • Authenticate All Users– Who are the people that are requesting access to your extranet, and how do you know that they are who they claim to be? For intranets, the accounts through which users are authenticated are usually held in Active Directory. For extranets, we generally recommend one of four main options:
    • Active Directory – Set up a separate Active Directory just for your extranet. In this case you’ll be responsible for setting up the accounts, managing the passwords, providing assistance to those who forget their passwords, etc. If you choose to go this route you may want to take advantage of one of the many third party account management software solutions that provide the forms, processes, etc. to make implementation easier.
    • Local SQL Database – Less complex to set up and maintain than Active Directory, but still requires your company to host and manage the authentication accounts internally.
    • LiveID – For those who do not want to manage the accounts internally, Microsoft’s LiveID authentication service can be a good solution. While the accounts are all managed externally by Microsoft, you will still need to map these external IDs into your SharePoint IDs.
    • Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) – For situations in which an extranet is set up specifically to share information between your organization and a partner organization, ADFS can be used. ADFS enables logins to be shared between two organizations, so that the request for authentication gets passed back to the external organization’s Active Directory servers.
  • Control Access through Authorization – While authentication verifies a user’s identity, authorization verifies that a given user is authorized to access a given piece of information. This is managed in the same way that it is for internal SharePoint sites: by the site owner. Site owners are responsible for setting up the policies for granting access to different folders, sites or pieces of information based on information in the user’s account.
  • Restrict Information Use Through Rights Management – Rights management can be used to restrict how the information in a given file can be used. For example, you may want to enable someone to view a file but restrict them from altering it, printing it out or emailing it to someone else.

Microsoft’s Information Rights Management (IRM) integrates with Office documents and can be used to set policies regarding what is allowed to be done with particular files. It also integrates with SharePoint, enabling you to configure the rights policies for entire SharePoint folders. In addition, IRM allows you to specify different rights for different groups of users.

It should be noted, however, that the IRM technology does not provide 100% protection. For example, your IRM policies cannot prevent a person from taking a screen shot – or even a photograph – of a document and forwarding or printing that image. It also won’t prevent a person from handwriting the words that are on the screen and keeping a record in that way.

Many organizations find SharePoint extranets extremely useful. The capabilities are the same as what is available for intranets; the difference is the audience and how they gain access. Properly managing security and accessibility enables you to make the most of your company’s extranet sites.

Lance Elworth, SharePoint Architect


Coyote Creek is Looking for a Senior Linux Engineer

Please help us get the word out! For IT professionals who are tired of taking contract positions in which they’re essentially “thrown to the wolves” out at the client site, Coyote Creek has a better way. Take a position as a contractor for one of our Contract Services clients, and you’ll become a part of the Coyote Creek team, receiving extensive back-end support. From regularly scheduled one-on-ones with our Engagement Manager to meetings, social events, and the ability to tap into our network of engineers when questions arise, even when you’re out in the field you’ll never be alone.

We are looking for a Senior Linux Engineer for a 2 month in San Francisco. 

Experience Desired:

  • RedHat
  • Bash Scripting
  • Perl Knowledge
  • LVM Knowledge
  • Kickstart
  • Knowledge and understanding of Multi-pathing
  • Mxpio
  • Must know how to scan the bus
  • PVcreate, volume creation and Logical Volumes

For more information, please contact Robert McCoy at 408.383.9200 Ext. 130 or rmccoy@coyotecrk.com.

How is your IT roster looking?

We are now deep enough into the baseball season that each club and manager has got a pretty good idea of the capability of the team and their roster. Each manager also understands their roster’s strengths, can see where they have holes and knows what needs to be done to fill those holes.

At Coyote Creek, we’ve learned that building and running an IT team is a similar process. With constantly evolving user needs, competition, technologies and personnel issues, you need to be constantly tuning your team to make sure you have the right players to get the job done.

However, managing an IT team can be quite a challenge. While weeding out or improving poor performers can be done relatively easy, it can be very hard to ensure that your best resources are staying current on new needs and technologies. Heck, it can be tough just to free them up from current tasks so that they’ll have the time to look at new technologies or projects.

Helping IT managers solve this problem is one of the areas where Coyote Creek can add a lot of value. Maybe you have a pressing deadline on a project and need more bandwidth to execute. Maybe you need to deploy a new technology that your team isn’t familiar with. Or perhaps you need to add a specialty resource on an interim basis as a mentor to get a high-performing team to the next level.

Whatever your IT roster challenges are, Coyote Creek can help. Got a roster challenge? Please let us know. The solution may be just a phone call away.

Terri Carney, Director of Sales

Coyote Creek is Looking for a Windows System Administrator

Please help us get the word out! For IT professionals who are tired of taking contract positions in which they’re essentially “thrown to the wolves” out at the client site, Coyote Creek has a better way. Take a position as a contractor for one of our Contract Services clients, and you’ll become a part of the Coyote Creek team, receiving extensive back-end support. From regularly scheduled one-on-ones with our Engagement Manager to meetings, social events, and the ability to tap into our network of engineers when questions arise, even when you’re out in the field you’ll never be alone.

Experience & Desired Skills:

  • 6+ years of Windows 2008, Exchange 2007/2010 and Active Directory design and support experience
  • 3+ years of Citrix Xenapp, VMware ESXi (4 and 5) server and VMware View design and support experience
  • Experience with implementing and supporting enterprise backup systems such as Commvault Backup.
  • Experience with Windows and Exchange scripting
  • Dell and HP high-end server experience a plus
  • Hitachi and Netapp storage experience a plus
  • HA, active/active system build, design and failure point analysis experience
  • Ability to document project designs
  • History of progressively complex project management experience

For more information, please contact Robert McCoy at 408.383.9200 Ext. 130 or rmccoy@coyotecrk.com.

Why Coyote Creek is Now Offering Contract Services

Contract Services…Staff Augmentation…IT Contracting. Regardless of the name you give it, in the IT world it all refers to essentially the same thing: providing IT professionals to work on IT projects on a temporary basis.

We’ve been avoiding providing Contract Services for years

For many years now Coyote Creek has been receiving requests from our clients who need help finding IT contractors, often to work with a technology that is outside of our usual area of expertise. And for many years we’ve been turning down these requests, as we didn’t feel we were in a position to provide these resources at the same quality level that our clients have come to expect from Coyote Creek based on our Project Services and Managed Services offerings.

The last thing we wanted was to become “just another IT temp or contracting agency.” Flooding clients with a bunch of resumes and then leaving it up to them to sift through the pile and make a good hiring decision just isn’t our style. And sending people out to a client site and then leaving them there without any back-end support or oversight isn’t the “Coyote Creek way” either.

We’re now in a position to do Contract Services right

But over the past few years Coyote Creek has grown quite a bit. We now have a Human Resources Department, Recruiting Manager, Sales Team and Sales Manager in place. We’ve improved our interviewing and screening procedures (including conducting criminal background checks), and developed specific processes for evaluating applicants to ensure that we’re hiring the very best people for each position.

With all of this in place we’re finally ready to roll out a Contract Services offering. We’ll be using the same rigorous interviewing and screening processes that have proven so effective for Coyote Creek’s internal hiring, including an in-depth assessment of each candidate’s technical skills. And because we’re providing this as an extension of our other services, Coyote Creek’s Contract Services will come with a full back-end infrastructure of both technical and professional support. Our Contract Services Manager will ensure that (a) the client’s needs and expectations are being met and (b) the person we sent out has the support, information and tools they need to do the job.

Coyote Creek’s Contract Services are now available

The bottom line is that our clients have been asking for this for years. Now that we’re in a position to provide Contract Services the way that we feel it should be done, we’re proud to add it to our service line.

Mike Faster, President  

Constructing PowerShell Commands

 PowerShell, Microsoft’s latest scripting language, is surprisingly versatile. In previous posts we’ve discussed the benefits of using PowerShell and also presented 7 really useful PowerShell commandlets for Exchange. Today I’m going to break down a sample PowerShell command, GetMailboxCopyStatus.ps1, to show you how PowerShell commands are constructed.

The sample command is used in Exchange to collect database copy status and output the results to a text file. Here’s how it looks:

Get-mailboxserver | Where { $_.Name -Like “PortionOfServerNameGoesHere*” } | get-mailboxdatabasecopystatus | select Name,Status,ContentIndexState,ErrorMessage | sort-object Name | Format-Table >”E:\Status\DAGcopystatus\ $(get-date -f yyyy-MM-dd-hh-mm-ss).txt”

Now let’s take a look at this command one element at a time:

Element

Element Type

Result

Get-mailboxserver Command Returns list of all of the mailbox servers within the Exchange infrastructure.
| Piping symbol Take whatever came before the piping symbol and pipe it through whatever follows the piping symbol.
Where { $_.Name -Like “PortionOfServerNameGoesHere*” } Condition

The “where” commandlet is used to filter a list down to the particular items of interest.Take the list of mailbox servers that was returned by the Get-mailboxserver command and narrow it down to just those servers with server names that include what is specified here.get-mailboxdatabasecopystatusCommandReturns the copy status of all of the databases on all of the servers on the list of servers created above.select Name,Status,ContentIndexState, ErrorMessageFilter

“Select” is used to limit the fields that you want returned from an object.Narrows things down so that rather than getting a list of every field on each of these databases, you only get the specified fields (in this case, the Name, Status, ContentIndexState and ErrorMessage fields).sort-object NameFilter

“Sort” is used to place the elements of a list in a specified order.Takes the values that are returned from the above select and sorting it according to Name.Format-TableFilter

“Format” is used to put things in an easily accessible format.Takes the output from the above and places it in a table, rather than simply dumping it all into a long list.>Redirect symbolTakes the output from everything that came before the redirect symbol, and places it into the particular file specified immediately after the redirect symbol.”E:\Status\DAGcopystatus\File pathThis is where the file will be located.$(get-date -f yyyy-MM-dd-hh-mm-ss).txt”CommandA command that uses the current date and time to create a unique filename.

A little bonus for you      

If you want to take the database copy status script created by all of the above and have it programmatically execute on a scheduled basis, you can use this shell out command in a timer job. Here’s the command that will make it happen:

C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -command “. ‘E:\Program Files\Exchsrvr\bin\RemoteExchange.ps1′; Connect-ExchangeServer -auto; E:\Status\Scripts\GetMailboxCopyStatus.ps1″

 Want to learn more? If you’re interested in delving even further into the subject, a good starting point is Microsoft’s list of all of the available PowerShell commandlets and more detailed information about piping.

Stephen Westerfield, Senior Systems Engineer

 

Coyote Creek is Looking for an Experienced Network Engineer

Please help us get the word out! For IT professionals who are tired of taking contract positions in which they’re essentially “thrown to the wolves” out at the client site, Coyote Creek has a better way. Take a position as a contractor for one of our Contract Services clients, and you’ll become a part of the Coyote Creek team, receiving extensive back-end support. From regularly scheduled one-on-ones with our Engagement Manager to meetings, social events, and the ability to tap into our network of engineers when questions arise, even when you’re out in the field you’ll never be alone.

We are looking for a Network Engineer for a 6-12 month contract through us. 

Desired Skills:
  • 80% Production Support and 20% Project/Task Related
  • Cisco LAN/WAN experience Required
  • Advanced knowledge of Ecommerce Networking; including security and redundancy
  • Must have CCNP or Equivalent work experience

For more information, please contact Robert McCoy at 408.383.9200 Etx. 130 or rmccoy@coyotecrk.com.

Coyote Creek is Looking for an Experienced Windows System Administrator

Please help us get the word out! For IT professionals who are tired of taking contract positions in which they’re essentially “thrown to the wolves” out at the client site, Coyote Creek has a better way. Take a position as a contractor for one of our Contract Services clients, and you’ll become a part of the Coyote Creek team, receiving extensive back-end support. From regularly scheduled one-on-ones with our Engagement Manager to meetings, social events, and the ability to tap into our network of engineers when questions arise, even when you’re out in the field you’ll never be alone.

Job Description:

The Windows System Administrator will support and maintain a multi-site Microsoft Exchange 2007/2010 organization. Ideal candidate will have strong skills in Microsoft Exchange including Blackberry services. Also, have the knowledge to support/maintain Desktop Support Group, Windows 2000/2003 (and beyond) servers, third party applications, and more.

For more information, please contact Robert McCoy at 888-269-6838 or rmccoy@coyotecrk.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: